Using SEO to Enhance Sourcing and Make More Placements in 2013

Considering the best way to enhance placements in 2013? My advice is to brush up on the trending technology and hang on! If you are not prepared to keep an open mind when it comes to sourcing candidates and learn a little bit about search engine optimization, SEO, you may find yourself left behind this year.

Alright, so before I push anyone over the edge…yes, I can already see someone stepping up on to the proverbial soap box to begin the lecture about how they don’t need to know SEO, because they don’t need to post jobs to the internet. They are too good for job posting. They go after the passive candidate "by means of calling directly into the client’s competitor." Blah, blah, blah.

OK. Listen. Save it.  I have been there and I have done it. I worked a desk; I worked it well. I respect how a professional search agent does their job. I know what they were taught, because at one point, I was the one teaching it.  So let me be very clear. I am NOT suggesting you stop your direct sourcing efforts. Keep using traditional direct sourcing like phone calls, LinkedIn, Jigsaw, or Boolean search.  What I AM suggesting, is that you be open to the avenues that the internet and advanced technology has opened for you. I used to fax resumes too, and I would still fax one if that is how my client wanted it, but the fact is, they don’t. They are using new technology and so you better believe I am too! Research shows that 20% of company placements come from job boards, second only to employee referrals.

You can no longer dismiss a source because it seems too easy. Have you ever left 5 voicemail with no call back? Then you send an email or a text and you hear something back in 2 minutes? You get my point.

To find new candidates you need to explore their new playing fields. Social networking sites, job boards,  blogs, discussion groups, and new ad distribution tools like REKRUTR are just a few ways to do this. These engines are working even when you can’t or don’t want to be.  So what does SEO have to do with it? Let's experiment.

Experiment: Copy the title of your most critical job requisition and paste it into Google. Is your position on the first page? Is it on the 3rd page? How about page thirty? Everything you see listed before your ad is what a candidate will need to overcome to reach you. The bottom line is the more sites it is on, and the more searched key words you use, the higher your job is positioned on these sites.

Here are some easy ways to begin working SEO into your job advertisement. Watch for our eBook “Search Engine Optimization in Recruitment” coming soon.


 Revise Your Title

If you aren’t including a city in your job title, you should change that first. Instead of Inside Sales Representative, try “Inside Sales Representative in Tucson, AZ” for example. In some cases you will want to use the major metropolitan area for the job in the title, and then clarify the specific location. For example, you may want to title the position “Java Website Developer in Chicago, IL” even if your position is technically in Naperville. In some circumstances Orange County might work better paired with the job title. The point is to include the location to help your SEO.

You should also consider keeping your job description general enough for someone to be clear what the role is without seeing the job description. Desktop Administrator - Indianapolis, IN will get much more visibility than “Tech II Admin”. When you can, include a key skill in the description. Use “Java Web Developer in Atlanta, GA” rather than “Web Developer –Atlanta” to help your SEO rankings.

Have Them At Hello

Use the first paragraph to provide a short overview of the role you are trying to fill. Before you attempt to go in to a description of your company, try to repeat the job title once within the first 150-155 characters and provide the location again. You will “have them at hello”. This is the best place to get in some key skills you are seeking.  Most SEO experts advise against describing your company in this first paragraph.  Stick to the job overview and be sure to write in coherent sentences using proper grammar. This way the keywords searched by the user will appear as bold in the search engine results. This will increase the chances of a job seeker clicking on your ad.

Repeat Keyword Phrases

Your job title will be the most important key word phrase you use in the advertisement if you have included key skills. In the remainder of your ad, repeat these key skills or key phrases at least three but no more than six times. Again, be sure to use sentences. Don’t just repeat the key skills. Search engines have sophisticated tracking that will catch this. Sentences such as “The responsibilities of the Sales Manager…” or “As you will have proved through previous Sales Manager roles…” are good ways of fitting key terms in without them looking forced.

Think Big, Think Many

The thing that will help search engine ranking for your job the most is thinking big for your search. You will want to post to many sites. The best way to accomplish this, without going to each site individually, is to use a sourcing tool like REKRUTR. Sites like this, leverage their relationships and connections to get the position to as many sites as possible. A well written job description can hit thousands of sites using this kind of tool.

Check Your Competition

Use different search engines to search for a similar position at your biggest competitor. What key words and phrases did they use that you have forgotten?

Stay Fresh

I recommend refreshing your jobs at least once a week; twice a week if it is a critical fill. By refresh I mean go in and tweak something minor like using “On-Site Maintenance Supervisor in Naples, Florida” instead of “Maintenance Supervisor-Naples”. This helps move your job back to the top of  job aggregators, social media sites and discussion groups.

Use these tips with every post to get your job seen. When you combine this with your own efforts you will see a larger pool of candidates. Your client is counting on you for that.  Keep in mind that the general public is using a search engine to find just about everything they are looking for now. Where they eat, where they play, where they live, and where they work. The number of candidates who are specifically going directly to a company career site or a specific job board to search is getting smaller every day.

Keep in mind, too, that a large number of the candidates you seek are not even at a computer when they search. Many job seekers are literally speaking their desired new position into the search function on their mobile device to find new job opportunities.  “Siri, search java developer positions in Tucson.”  Every time I use this function on my device I remember watching "The Jetsons"as a kid. Did you ever think this technology would be here? Have you found other ways to embrace search engine optimization in your job search? I would love to hear about it.

Amy McDonald has been working in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. She has worked in corporate recruiting as well as third party search and staffing. She has worked with hundreds of recruitment professionals over her career, training best practices in sourcing candidates and refining the recruitment process. She currently is the president and CEO at




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